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Old 12-30-2009, 09:05 AM   #1  
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Default Thoughts on self-worth

I just got a grade back from one of my classes, and it was not good. I was really upset about it, especially since it's a class that was really important to me, and I thought that I had written a really good final paper. I was (and still am) totally crushed. I started questioning myself and my abilities, I felt like sh-t.

I didn't use it as an excuse to eat, although it certainly occurred to me more than once. I realized however that eating now would only make me feel worse about myself.

To get onto the topic of weight and weight loss, this experience made me realize something. I've been overweight most of my life--I'm used to it. I've gotten over it, for the most part, and day to day, I don't feel useless, hopeless, etc as a result of my weight. But this bad grade--it delivered a blow--and I did feel hopeless, useless, stupid, pathetic, etc.

My self-worth is NOT wrapped up in just my weight! I was waaaaay more upset about this grade than I've ever been about my weight. And I was thinking about shows like the Biggest Loser (which I started watching and enjoy) where the people say that they've put their lives on hold because of their weight--and it makes me crazy, because it seems to create this stereotype that overweight people are pathetic and depressed and hopeless because of their weight, and it's just not true for me! I have other things in my life that are WAY more important to me. I've gone out and achieved things that I wanted to achieve, even though I have excess fat on my body--I didn't let that stop me, because it was not related to the goals I wanted to achieve.

So I guess out of the bad comes some kind of good, I learned something from it. And the professor accepted my request to re-write the paper for a better grade, so hopefully I can gain back some of the self-respect I lost!

What do you guys think? Do you feel that your weight holds you back in your whole life (the way they portray it on BL)? Or is it just something that you want to take care of, but that doesn't define how you think and feel about yourself?
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:47 AM   #2  
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Really good post. I've been thinking about my self-worth a lot lately. As my weight has gone down my confidence and self-esteem has risen. I feel so much better about myself at 200 lbs than I ever did ten years ago at 135 lbs. Looking back I can see that my self-worth kept dropping as I gained weight, but at the time I didn't see it as that much of a problem.

I didn't let my weight stop me from living (or so I thought), I went to college/grad school, made friends, enjoyed my life. But there were things I avoided because of the weight (dating, shopping with friends, ...) and the feelings of shame/guilt because of the weight added all sorts of issues. I was kinda like how they portray on the BL. But again I didn't feel that way at the time, it's only after the fact that I can see the problems.

Great job talking to your prof. I remember bombing exams when I honestly thought I did well, to get a rewrite is awesome. Stay positive & Good luck!
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:55 AM   #3  
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This is such a good question to consider. On one hand - my weight exaggerates my physical limitations. I have to do chair exercises instead of weight baring and all that goes with those limitations. I really hate that.

On the other hand - I am a performer. While I hate the way I look , I still perform and have performed at a obese high weight for 19 years. It's kind of amazing - there are days when I can't look in the mirror below the waist, but, I can go perform for 100 people.

I guess the love of my job is more than the hate of my body.

Good luck with the professor!

Last edited by Beverlyjoy; 12-30-2009 at 09:56 AM.
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:12 AM   #4  
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Good question. I think that I am afraid (for various reasons) to live fully and that getting fat has evolved into a convenient reason to not do all things I want to do but am too afraid to try.

For example, I would love to find a boyfriend but I do absolutely nothing to get one because I figure that I am too fat too be attractive. But really, I think I am too afraid to get into a relationship right now. So my obesity is a great excuse for not trying. But this becomes a vicious circle. I get depressed because I am lonely and then go on eating binges which causes me to gain weight and (by my own flawed reasoning) then I am even less likely to find a boyfriend.

These last few days since I started here I have been reading all the posts and trying to figure this whole thing out. I also have anxiety disorder which combined with being overweight ensures that my life is limited. But these are symptoms of the bigger problem and that is that for whatever reason I am afraid to get out there and LIVE. So this is what I will be working on this year. The big questions for me this year will be; what am I so afraid of, how did I get to be so afraid and how do I overcome it.

Thanks for the great post it inspired me to do some thinking!
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:14 AM   #5  
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I think this is different for people who have been overweight since childhood than it is for people who became overweight later in life.

I was a "normal" sized person until my 30s, although I did have a brief weight gain in my early 20s that I then lost. In my 30s, I began to gain slowly. I went up and down for many years until I reached around 200 pounds about four years ago.

But my experience of myself was not as a "fat person." My self-image was that I was normal sized, maybe a bit overweight, but surely I was healthy. So for me, my weight was never a part of the important things in my life.

It wasn't until I took a good hard look one year that I realized I was no longer overweight, I was obese, and I wasn't that healthy, either.

Now that I have lost weight, I feel that the outside matches how I have always seen myself inside.

The important things in my life have always been about work and achievement, or sometimes about relationships. Obesity in some ways seemed like something that "just happened" to me, almost like a bad accident or cosmic joke. Of course, I did it to myself.

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Old 12-30-2009, 10:16 AM   #6  
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I have/had things in my life that helped define me as a person and have nothing to do with my weight. I have a wonderful family, great friends a good job. I have hobbies and little quirks about me that have nothing to do with weight.

However, being overweight did very much help define who I am and what kind of friends I made and what kind of activities we do together. For example my friends and I love going out to eat, but we don't spend a lot of time at the pool. Also at a higher weight I was feeling sick all the time and that was starting to define me. Now that I'm smaller and active THAT is starting to define me. All the things that make me ME are still there, I've just open my world to new activties and new ways of thinking, so far it's been great!
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:32 AM   #7  
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I hate, hate, hate, when anyone including myself puts a psychological reason on my weight. I gained 100 lbs very quickly 20 years ago due to a travel job that required every meal M-F eaten in a restaurant or fast food drive through. Combine high calorie meals with 70 hour work weeks and you're going to pile on the pounds. And frankly it was going to be a ton of work and concentration to work it back off and it wasn't that important to me until recently. Was it my "self esteem"? I really don't think so, as I suspect it takes a pretty strong self esteem to stay fat in a society that looks down on the obese.
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:50 AM   #8  
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That is a wonderful question! I think so many things play into determining how your weight affects your self-worth. Your support system as a child, your temperament, your experiences.

I have been overweight since I was a young child. As I grew into an adult, there were areas of my life in which I think my weight affected my confidence (as a teenager primarily dating). When I was in college for my undergraduate degree, I think that my identity did become an overweight perons. I lost a lot of weight (very unhealthily) and dating became easier.

But, today, I think I had/have a lot of self-worth. I know that I was/am very successful in school (I am working on my terminal degree right now and things are going well), I have been very successful in my career, I am a good daughter, a good wife, a great mother.

And when I think about who I am, overweight is very low on the list. It is not, nor will ever again be, my identity.

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Old 12-30-2009, 11:12 AM   #9  
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I'll post something that I wrote in another thread once, because it's the best explanation that I've arrived at yet for how my being fat is entangled with my notions of self-worth.

For starters, I'll give you my Grand Theory of My Lifelong Overcompensation for Being Fat. Because I felt that I was inherently unacceptable because of my body & that people would not want to be around me, I felt that I had to prove my worth in many other ways. Redundantly, over & over again. That meant I had to be smart, funny, and above all, at all times, pleasing to look at & be around -- really clean, presentable, well-dressed, well-made-up. I mean, sure, I was fat, but I'd be damned if I was also going to be sloppy, smelly, sweaty, bedraggled, whatever else is included in the stereotype of a woman who's lost all interest in taking care of herself & any notion of what is socially acceptable & unacceptable. I had to be the exact opposite of that stereotype.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:27 PM   #10  
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Originally Posted by caryesings View Post
I hate, hate, hate, when anyone including myself puts a psychological reason on my weight. I gained 100 lbs very quickly 20 years ago due to a travel job that required every meal M-F eaten in a restaurant or fast food drive through. Combine high calorie meals with 70 hour work weeks and you're going to pile on the pounds. And frankly it was going to be a ton of work and concentration to work it back off and it wasn't that important to me until recently. Was it my "self esteem"? I really don't think so, as I suspect it takes a pretty strong self esteem to stay fat in a society that looks down on the obese.
I think this is so interesting. Because I am the EXACT opposite.

I am always amazed that not everyone is a head case like me.

I had HORRIBLE self-esteem as a young person, and walked around thinking that I was HUGELY FAT and that this disqualified me from normal life... I never had a boyfriend in high school or college because I thought I was too fat for guys to even look at me. My entire young life was dominated by my belief that I was so fat. Ironically, I didn't gain weight until later, but it's easy to let yourself get to almost 300 pounds when you've always been HUGE in your own head.

I'll never forget one time, when I was in my early 20s, I was hired for a job based on my resume, and later, my young and *****y boss said "you're the kind of person who looks good on paper..." And that just made me go NUTS with my insecurity. I thought it was because I was FAT. (I think I weighed 145 at the time..) Well, who knows why she said it, probably it was just a *****y thing to say.

So fast foward to now. I had to make peace with myself and get rid of my obsession with the idea that my weight was holding me back before I ever got to a spot where I could love myself enough to lose the weight.

And, yes, objectively, at close to 300 pounds, my weight was definitely holding me back in my career, because I have a career where how you look is very important. And because my obesity was affecting my quality of life-- I was constantly tired and sickish and lethargic. I never exercised. I felt like a heart attack waiting to happen.

But I still felt better about myself than I did back at 145 when I believed that being fat was creating all kinds of problems and that losing weight would be the key to success.

That was just an illusion that I was carrying around with me, and I think I needed therapy, not a diet, back then.
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Old 12-30-2009, 12:49 PM   #11  
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I think it's too much to expect one explanation for obesity.

A great many people do take a major hit to self-esteem from their obesity. And a great many have major self-esteem / other internal issues that at least facilitate becoming and remaining obese. And a great many don't. A great many are equally active, or healthy, or stylish, or social, or all of the above, as they are/were when slimmer.

I think it's probably hopeless to ever expect the media to stop grossly oversimplifying things.

People (inidividuals) also like simple explanations. It's easier than understanding everyone they meet as individuals. But they like to consider *themselves* unique and special.
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Old 12-30-2009, 01:56 PM   #12  
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Default Great question!

I started replying to this earlier but decided to leave it for a bit because I hadn't figured it out (heh, like I'll ever do that...).

Jay's comment that this is something that surely differs depending on how long one has been overweight is something I agree with. I've been overweight/obese for most of my life (my father told me that as a very young baby I contracted an illness which caused me to lose a third of my body weight. My reaction of "Sheesh, if only I could do that now" wasn't quite what he was expecting.), and even though I'm now around 40lbs down I still see myself as horrendously fat. It's near impossible for me to imagine what life at a normal weight is like.

I also suffer from self-esteem which is so low that it would make the Mariana Trench look like a high-altitude holiday. Over the past few months I've been getting better, but there are good days and bad days. Or bad weeks. Ugh.

In my personal situation, insofar as I can look at it properly, my perception of my self-worth is due to many factors of which my weight plays a significant role. It's not the only cause, and maybe it's not even a primary cause. But it's certainly bound up in the entire mess.
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Old 12-30-2009, 01:57 PM   #13  
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Originally Posted by caryesings View Post
Was it my "self esteem"? I really don't think so, as I suspect it takes a pretty strong self esteem to stay fat in a society that looks down on the obese.
Wow. I never thought about it like that before.

Originally Posted by ubergirl View Post
So fast foward to now. I had to make peace with myself and get rid of my obsession with the idea that my weight was holding me back before I ever got to a spot where I could love myself enough to lose the weight.
I'm still working on learning to love myself.

When I was growing up, I felt like an unwanted child. My counselor called it emotional neglect. When I got fat (around 8 or 9?) I felt I had a reason for people not liking me and that is still my "protection" today.

I would have to say I have self esteem smaller than a mustard seed but it has been planted and I'm doing what I can to make it grow.
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Old 12-30-2009, 02:33 PM   #14  
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My negative self-esteem issues are primarily centered around my body, weight and appearance. When it comes to non-appearance related things like intelligence, personality, capability, etc. I feel pretty good about myself.

But I'm working on it! I've got a lot of years of ingrained thoughts and behaviors to undo. Fat earns a lot of criticism, name calling, and disdain in my family. I was told by my dad in high school that no one would ever consider marrying me unless I lost weight (my BMI was on the high end normal then). It's hard to develop good self-esteem with that nonsense floating around.

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Old 12-30-2009, 03:27 PM   #15  
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I've always been a sensitive person, but never engaged in active self-loathing or any such behavior. I have also always been fatter than my peers, at least in varying degrees since middle school, but I always thought I excelled at everything I put my mind to.

However since losing weight, my self esteem has gone way up, which means it was low before and I just didn't *realize* it, because it was my normal state of being before. I wasn't aware how much self esteem I was lacking because my identity had always been tied up with my weight, even given my success in life. I always did above and beyond to overcompensate for my weight, without realizing I was doing it.

My self esteem is great these days, and getting better, but interestingly it isn't really just my weight doing it. My husband's love and my achievements as a mother have done as much or more to bolster me as any weight loss.
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